Describing the Presidential address as ‘disappointing’, the Opposition BJP and some UPA allies on Wednesday flayed the Centre on a host of issues, including farmers’ plight, price rise, internal and external security and relations with neighbouring countries.
“The Centre has tried to set its political agenda for the next elections through the President’s address. But it neither has any direction, vision or resolve, nor will power to deal with the challenges that the country is facing. It appears to be escapist when confronted with real challenges,” said BJP president Rajnath Singh, in his address to the Lok Sabha. He pointed out that there was no reason for cheer on the agriculture front. He also said the Five-year Plan figures could never be considered a parameter for agricultural growth.
“The Centre often cites the plan figures. It’s nothing but an attempt at a cover-up. There has been only 1.8 per cent growth in the sector in the last year... Who doesn’t know that on an average 70 farmers are committing suicide in the country? In Andhra Pradesh, they are selling kidneys to repay debts,” the BJP president noted.
Rajnath, among other things, demanded a special session to deliberate upon agriculture and seconded the call for a separate budget for the sector.
The SP too targeted the Centre, with its supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav faulting it on issues like economy, internal security as well as foreign policy. “No step has been taken to check inflation. Any government with courage can take measures to control it,” he said.
Pointing out that Pakistan must be treated as a younger brother, he said that the real threat for the country was China. While calling for a confederation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the SP chief asked the Centre to scrap MNREGA, as it was a breeding ground for corruption.
Among others, Trinamool’s Saugata Roy, BJD’s B Mahtab and AIADMK’s M Thambidurai agreed with the claim that the President’s address didn’t deal with the burning issues that the nation has been facing.
The UPA ally National Conference attacked the government on Azfal’s hanging, saying the demand of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to delay the execution to avoid law and order problem in the state was ignored.
Earlier, initiating the debate on the motion of thanks, Congress member P C Chacko defended the government, saying that the country has emerged as the largest producer of wheat and rice in the world. “We have become a model to the world,” he said.
Chacko further said he expected a ‘dream budget’ from Finance Minister P Chidambaram and dismissed the Opposition charge that the Centre was hit by policy paralysis.
He added that plans to bring Food Security Bill in the current session showed the commitment of the Congress-led government towards the poor.